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Paul "Texas Red" Halperin
Paul Halperin was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. Growing up in south central Texas in the 1950's, he began hearing Jimmy Reed on the AM radio, and he often heard blues performers at San Antonio's legendary Eastwood Country Club. Living in Austin in the mid-60's, he saw Muddy Waters at one of the city's first live music clubs. To this day, Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, and the South Texas Shuffle style are the foundations of Halperin's music
Halperin has often said, "Blues is all I ever wanted to play." His first blues band, The Blues Kings, was formed in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1971, and it became the first in a series of bands that he has fronted as lead singer and rhythm guitarist. The following year, The Blues Kings changed its name to Terraplane. When the band members decided to have nicknames, Halperin, because of his Texas roots and reddish hair, adopted the name Paul "Texas Red" Hart. Since that time he's been known as "Tex," or "Red."
In Louisville in 1973, Tex put together a five-piece blues band with two guitars, harmonica, bass, and drums, debuting under the name Texas Red and the Hartbreakers. After instant regional success in 1974, and a thwarted attempt to move the band to Austin, Texas, members went their separate ways. The outgrowth of Texas Red and the Hartbreakers was a string of highly successful bands that significantly affected the Louisville music scene. For the next several years, Tex traveled and played as a solo in Arizona and Texas.
Early in his career Red began incorporating humorous stories, ad-libs, and dialogue with his audience into the space between songs. Describing Tex' performance, a longtime cohort said, "...he kind of eggs on the audience to new heights of rowdiness. He takes that awkward space between songs and uses it to his advantage. He's a blues comedian of sorts." In 1984 in Phoenix, Arizona, Tex re-created Texas Red and the Hartbreakers as an electrifying five-piece unit that turned the Phoenix blues scene upside down. When Red ended the band in Phoenix in 1987, Texas Red and the Hartbreakers had won Best Blues Band awards and a reputation as the tightest, funniest, most exciting and hardest-hitting blues band in town. Texas Red has had a lasting impact, returning periodically in the '90's to play to sold out houses at Phoenix' showcase blues club, The Rhythm Room.
Robert Cray, globe-trotting in the mid-80's, took notice of Tex and his notorious Hartbreakers and invited them to open for his band on a dozen dates around the U.S. In the fall of 1985, Charlie Musselwhite chose Texas Red and the Hartbreakers as his backup band for shows around the Southwest.
On several occasions in recent years, Lyle Lovett has surprised Tex by asking him to come up on stage in the middle of his concerts. Lovett has handed over his guitar and left the stage, leaving Red to play the blues for Lovett's audience.
Tex has always loved straight-up Chicago blues with a Texas twist. His songwriting is comical and mischievous, which speaks volumes of his wildly adventurous life experiences. On stage he encourages a spirit of blues abandon, always bringing out the best solo performances from his band members.
In 1997, Texas Red is having a natural ball performing at age 50. With his long red hair and Fender Esquire guitar, he walks up to the microphone and proudly proclaims to his audience, "It ain't gonna be nothin' but the straight and natural blues."
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